2012 Toyota RAV4 V6 engine barcelona red front end
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Why Toyota Should Bring Back the RAV4 V6 Engine

Toyota has rolled solely with a 4-cylinder option on its RAV4 models, including the 2019 RAV4, for many years. We look at why bringing back a V6 engine to the RAV4 family is a good idea.
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The country’s best-selling vehicle in both sedan and SUV classes may surprise you. It also may not surprise you. The 2019 RAV4 has been outselling virtually every other brand, class and model for well over a year now.

Everything is headed upward, including in popularity and sales, for the wildly successful 2019 RAV4. However, one of the features from days and RAV4 generations past that is missed by many is the V6 engine. Maybe it is time to bring it back.

Why bring back the RAV4 V6?

During Toyota RAV4’s third generation run from 2005-2012, one of the options buyers could choose was a 3.5-liter V6 engine that produced 269 horsepower. Remember that “V6” chrome emblem displayed proudly along the front grille? Also, remember that spare tire on the back? The good old days.

Although it did not get the best gas mileage, the V6 RAV4 was one of the quickest vehicles in Toyota’s fleet. Drivers loved the RAV4 V6 for it’s zippiness and power. It was fun to drive.

2012 Toyota RAV4 V6 engine barcelona red front end

However, Toyota discontinued this V6 engine option with the introduction of the fourth generation RAV4, beginning with the 2013 model year. It was not a complete surprise, as I would guess that sales for V6 might have totaled only 10% of overall RAV4 sales. Some were disappointed but RAV4 sales only continued to rise, even with the V6 loss.

Now here we stand, in 2019. Sales for 2019 Toyota RAV4 have never been better. One reason is the incredible RAV4 Hybrid lineup, complete with excellent 40 mpg, great 219 horsepower and a good value.

I do think it makes sense to bring back a V6 engine alternative at some point, due to improved driving performance and overall fun factor. But with the overwhelming popularity of gas-saving options like the 2019 RAV4 Hybrid, where does this leave the possibility of a V6 engine return? Plus, if it ever did come back, how would it be utilized in the RAV4?

Options for a RAV4 V6 model

I am imagining a few different scenarios for a brand new V6 option. First, Toyota RAV4 could re-introduce its 3.5-liter V6 engine and offer it as an alternative option compared to its 4-cylinder on a few different trim levels. Perhaps XLE Premium level and above would be a good strategy.

Another choice would be to combine a RAV4 V6 engine with electric motors and launch a higher-powered Hybrid alternative. This would be similar to Toyota's Highlander Hybrid. Currently the 2019 RAV4 Hybrid uses a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine/electric motor combination to produce 219 horsepower, which is quicker and speedier than its gasoline equivalent (203 horsepower).

See why 2019 Toyota RAV4 is so popular these days in my video review. Click here to subscribe to Torque News YouTube channel for the latest Toyota news and automotive analysis.

With Toyota committed to manufacturing and delivering up to 50% of its entire lineup with Hybrid and alternative fuel vehicles within the next decade, the addition of a V6 may just not ever happen. Could be a pipe dream. And would V6 sales be strong this time around or remain low as in 2012?

What do you think about a V6 RAV4?

Would you consider a Toyota RAV4 with a V6 engine? How much horsepower would you like to see in a RAV4? Is it necessary? Do you think you would prefer a RAV4 Hybrid or a RAV4 gasoline model?

Thanks for reading everyone and thanks for your thoughts and comments. See you next story when I show you the New 2020 Tacoma SX Package.

Bookmark Jeff Teague's Toyota News and Reviews at Torque News Toyota. Please subscribe to Jeff’s “Toyotajeff” YouTube channel for Toyota news, reviews and how-to videos. Follow Jeff on Facebook and Instagram. Twitter him @toyotajeff1 and tweet him tips for new stories.


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Comments

I bought a base trim 2008 RAV4 with the V6 option and it has been a good option for me. I live in a hilly area of NH and most of my mileage is going up or down hills. I like another currently unavailable option, where only in low gear the RAV4 optionally will pulse brake to slow it to about 5mph. This is perfect for getting down my steep driveway when covered in an ice/snow condition. I might buy a new RAV4 again if these two options were available but I do not expect that to happen.
As a kid, I remember the only emission device on our 1964 Chevrolet Biscayne was a PCV valve in the valve cover. As emission and safety regulations increased, automakers had to design vehicles that complied with those regulations. Or to put it another way, the government was in the car design business. This isn't an anti-government rant, it is fact based on a 55 year observation from 1964 to present day. As far as a RAV4 with a V-6, it ain't gonna happen......it's all about gas mileage. That is why we see so many turbo engines these days. Yep, 4-cylinder engines for improved mpg and the added turbo for increased power. And don't get me started on the stop-start feature on some vehicles these days. And those folks that buy total electric cars....well they don't pay into the gas tax kiddie......so they are assessed an additional tax on the tag renewal to make up for that revenue loss. Let no good deed go unpunished.
In my estimation the 2006-2012 RAV4 V6 4WD, remains the ultimate compact SUV in fun-to-drive, features, value, and reliability. Rather than just admiring, I purchased two 2012s – which, currently, I have no desire to replace. Even the tire/wheel size is perfect for this vehicle: P225/65R17. From the 2013 model year forward, the RAV4s have not impressed me at all but have not had the same effect on the non-enthusiast American auto buying public – which mostly is enamored with transportation appliances. If I were to fulfill a wish, a contemporary vehicle acquisition would be a 2019 BMW X3 M40i. Addendum: If Toyota can successfully sell lackluster transportation appliances, aka RAV4s, why bother with V6 engines or anything for enthusiasts? Excellence is being replaced by Toyota's disingenuous marketing – sizzle without the steak.
V6 Water pump replacement is 1200 dollars as they almost have to remove the engine. Putting a v6 In a bay designed for a 4 banger, has consequences.
Would love to see Toyota bring the V-6 back to the RAV4, and would plan to purchase one. Unfortunately, Toyota has no V-6 to put into it as the 3.5L one from the Camry should fit, but has too much power, and would kill the 4Runner. A turbo would be a better engine, like a 2.0L one, but then the RAV4 would cut into the Lexus NX300 sales, and also Toyota does not use any turbos in the US unless it has a Lexus badge on it other than the Supra. In the end, Toyota painted themselves into a corner, and their only solution is to offer a RAV4 as a hybrid with more power as a performance variant, rather than maximizing it for fuel economy. Hence, while I would prefer to be wrong on this one, but in all likelihood the current engine offerings are as good as it gets- and hence why I don't own a RAV4.